Caps slow start plus poor finish equals another loss against Panthers

Tonight the Washington Capitals came into Sunrise, Florida seeking a much better effort against the Florida Panthers after a disastrous outing against Tampa Bay. While they still managed to lose the game, and it took quite some time, there was indeed something of an improved effort. However the poor beginning coupled with their still sputtering offensive production doomed the Capitals to another loss–their third in the last four games.

The action in the first several minutes seemed to indicate a better result was in the offing–Anthony Mantha hit the crossbar with a shot in the fifth minute of the game. That would be pretty much the Capitals best chance to score for the opening 20 minutes. Florida took over from that moment on, forcefully pressing the attack. Meanwhile the Capitals continued their pattern of poor zone transitions and lack of possession. Alexander Barkov would take advantage of a poor zone clear and fired the puck in to give the Panthers the lead at 5:45. They would finish the period with 22 shots for the period while the Capitals would only manage nine.

The second period featured another controversial moment as Lars Eller would be called for an illegal check to the head of Panthers center Carter Verhaeghe. This would give Florida a power play opportunity which was put in by Sam Reinhart at 3:46 of the second period. The television replays appeared to confirm that the head was not the main point of contact (as per NHL rule 48.1). Unlike what had occurred two games prior, Eller was only given a minor penalty, however.

The Capitals offense finally started to come to life later in the period as Dylan Strome would charge the net and fired a wrist shot past a screened Sergei Bobrovsky. They ramped up their output from then on, finishing the game with 43 shots on net, equaling Florida’s total. Nicholas Cousins took advantage of a Capitals defensive breakdown in front and put in the eventual game winner at 7:02 of the third. John Carlson would answer four minutes later to keep the Capitals close for a brief time. Verhaeghe would then put the game away with two goals late in the final minutes, one of them an empty netter in another team implosion.

NOTES–Washington had five power play chances for the game and once again failed to convert. This now runs up their futility streak to 0 for the last 21 chances. Head coach Peter Laviolette returned to the bench wearing a mask per League COVID protocols. Joe Snively assisted on Dylan Strome’s goal to record his first point of the season. The Capitals finish their current road swing with a trip to St. Louis on Wednesday, the start time is 8 PM ET.

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